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J&J Offers $4 Bln, Teva $15 Bln To Settle Opioid Claims Ahead Of Trial

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Drug maker Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd have offered to pay $4 billion and $15 billion, respectively, to settle all claims related to opioid epidemic in the US, according to reports.

The companies are trying to reach settlement ahead of a federal trial scheduled to begin on October 21. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is presiding the trial, reportedly has summoned the CEOs from major healthcare companies to his Cleveland court to seek a settlement.

Earlier, major drug distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp., also had offered to pay $18 billion to close all litigation alleging the drug industry fueled the opioid crisis in the country.

Johnson & Johnson is said to have offered to pay $4 billion in cash. Teva Pharma would give away drugs worth $15 billion, and billions worth of distribution services over 10 years. Further, the three distributors have offered to pay $18 billion in cash over 18 years.

The efforts to reach settlement come as opioid crisis in the U.S. is growing at an alarming rate. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Opioid addiction claimed about 400,000 lives in the United States from 1999 to 2017, of which around 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017 alone.

The drug industry is facing more than 2,000 actions by state and local governments accusing drug manufacturers that the companies aggressively marketed the painkillers despite knowing the risk of addiction and that they are liable for the nation's opioid crisis.

In early October, Johnson & Johnson had settled with two Ohio counties to pay a combined $10 million. In August, Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million after finding the company and its subsidiaries were responsible for opioid drug epidemic.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government agencies continue to take various steps to face the opioid crisis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in early October have warned four online networks, operating a total of 10 websites, to immediately stop illegally selling opioids to American consumers.

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